Library week launched in Dublin
The importance of libraries during periods of economic difficulty was underlined today at the launch of a week-long celebration of libraries and librarians.
Library Ireland Week, now in its seventh year, will see libraries across the State hosting hundreds of events to promote literacy and the role of libraries in the community.
Appropriately, the country’s most recognisable library, Trinity College Library's Long Room, hosted the launch, where Margaret Hayes, Dublin city librarian, said visitor numbers for all libraries are “going through the roof”.
A lot of that is down to the facilities’ ability to embrace new technology and changing times. Libraries are “healthy and adapting”, according to Georgina Byrne, South County Dublin librarian. “If you’re not adapting you’re not healthy.”
People have started to see libraries as an information source, Hayes said, noting the recent increase in the number coming to use IT resources. Straitened financial situations and high unemployment mean groups not usually associated with library usage, like the 25-39 year-old male demographic, come in large numbers to browse employment sites and job hunt.
Resources too are constantly changing. Digitisation, the making-available of books and other documents online, plays a strong role. “People expect to get more material through your website,” Hayes said. “We’re getting busier in different ways but certainly digitisation has an important role to play in contemporary libraries”.
A slew of closures in the United Kingdom caused controversy recently, but the librarians here don’t perceive such a threat. There’s more appreciation and a value attached to libraries in communities in Ireland, they said. Jane Cantwell, Waterford city librarian said there are some cases where smaller libraries are closing but on the whole the facilities get good support from the councils.
But its not just public libraries the week focuses on. Academic and specialist libraries are also applauded. “I read a quote the other day,” recalled Ms Byrne “that a university was actually a collection of buildings around a library”. They really do drive an academic institution, she added, and pointed to the grand Long Room as proof.
Library Ireland Week runs until November 18th and this Wednesday marks Library Day, when, among other events, Trinity College Library will allow members of the public free admission to view the Book of Kells: ‘Turning Darkness into Light’ exhibition.
For more information visit: libraryirelandweek.ie